Yesterday, while I was sitting at the computer, my Father came into the room and said, “You’ve done something different with your hair.”
“Yes,” I answered tentatively (having some idea what was about to transpire).
“I liked the color better before,” says Mr. Suave. There was a slight pause during which you could actually HEAR the light bulb click on in his Professor brain telling him – “WARNING – Perhaps that was the wrong thing to say.” So then he tried, “But it looks very nice.” Then, I guess somehow trying to explain what might have been considered an insensitive comment, he said, “It’s just that it was shining in the light from the window and it was so ORANGE!.”
In his defense, he is an engineer. And not JUST an engineer, he is the epitome of the Absent-Minded Professor. Had Fred MacMurray as Professor Ned Brainard (ha ha – BRAINard) not invented “flubber,” and had it anything to do with catalysis, I’m sure my Father would have come up with the substance by now.
So for YEARS we’ve been told, “What I nice haircut. I did like it better before…” and other such “compliments.” Mostly we take this unintentional offense in stride. Being a performer (in the olden days, anyway) led to a veritable smorgasbord of these “critical assessments.” Without missing a beat (ha – music), after practically every concert he would say, “That was lovely. But it did sound a lot better when you practiced it at home.” One feels the overwhelming urge at these moments to take the palm of your hand, hit him in the forehead with it and say, “DUH!!!” Because, indeed, as most people understand, that is the nature of the beast. It will ALWAYS sound better when you are practicing it and haven’t any performance anxiety. One can merely endeavor to take performances closer and CLOSER to the sound you achieve in the privacy of your home or a practice room or – the ultimate feat – the shower. Luckily, he never criticized much about my acting (I think he feels more qualified as a music critic), though once, after seeing a high school play I was in (I played Blanche, the bad, BAD mistress in Night Watch), he scared the almighty HELL out of my co-star by awkwardly making a joke about all the stage kissing – something about “kissing my daughter like that” – Tim thought he was serious and a shotgun might be involved (sorry about that).
Tonight we foolishly ventured to explain (again) why some things just DO NOT NEED TO BE SAID. He countered with, “But when I say I need a haircut you say it looks good and I don’t need one.” Yes, Dad, that’s BEFORE you’ve cut it off. It’s much different when you make a comment AFTERWARDS about how it was better before and one can only scramble about looking for clumps of hair and the superglue.
Poor Shirleen has traumatic piano recital memories of being told “he knew she could do much better.” She was eight years old. He said he had perceived that she was dissatisfied with the performance and wanted to tell her that he KNEW she had the ability to achieve more. She was EIGHT YEARS OLD. I, luckily, have managed to displace any memories of piano recital debacles with the myriad of singing performances I had (especially at University). So at least I have retained the ADULT memories more strongly. Poor Shirleen – she’s a through and through perfectionist as it is.
Come to think of it, not only is the “engineer” factor a strong player here, but genetics has a role. I finished my Senior recital with Not Getting Married Today from Company. My dear friend, Rachel, played the “choirgirl” and Dan played Paul. They did a great job. My Grandmother (Father’s Mother), however, came up to Rachel after the performance and said, “Were you supposed to be singing off-key – was that part of the song?” What do you say to that? For the record, she was NOT off-key, but it is a comic piece so her part is very over-dramatic. I was offended – luckily Rachel was not (bless her – and while I’m at it bless that little fetus, too).
Ah well, it’s all Locks of Love and hair dye under the bridge. I used to braid my hair every night before bed like a Jane Austen heroine. I used to be able to put ALL my hair in a ponytail. And my tresses USED to be this colour:
The elaborate rose-entwined coiffure was Bronwen’s doing. We were at a funeral in Canada, after all… (?) She used to say I had “pirate hair.” Having once been a pirate (complete with eye patch and pistol), I say, “Aaaaarrrrrgh!”
My pirate hair days are definitely over. Now, I look like Goth Strawberry Shortcake!!! I could start a diatribe about the untimely resurrection of all these cartoon characters that I thought had gone to their well-earned DEMISE, but that’s a story for another time.
NOTE: Internet Explorer people, I PROMISE I am still trying to fix the whole wiggy stupid column situation. In the meantime, why don’t you just get Firefox? It’s the super-bestest, anyway (those being the highly-technical computer terms for its product superiority). If you don’t believe ME, listen to Chris. He’s a technophile AND an artiste.